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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Moving and Shaking Up the League – Part II

Yesterday we discussed some of the power moving trades and acquisitions that took place in the NFL with yesterday’s start of 2013 free agency. Today, we look at how some teams got leaner and meaner on their payroll.

Belt Tightening Moves

Philadelphia Eagles cut cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha

Two years ago, Asomugha was the toast of the free agency class, signing a $60 million deal. Today, he is unemployed. Asomugha is still one of the best corners in the league, but he simply is not the bulletproof defensive force he was in 2011 when the Oakland Raiders released Asomugha and allowed him to test the open market. The team that signs Asomugha wil be getting a bargain, no matter what he signs for with the lower salary cap limits imposed for the coming season.

Gravity is real. What goes up will come down. 1
Pittsburgh Steelers cut linebacker James Harrison

Pittsburgh cut ties with the often fined former Defensive Player of the Year. Harrison is still a very productive and feared pass rusher. While the Steelers did not want to pay him the salary he was due in 2013, someone needs a top grade pass rusher (actually A LOT of teams have that need) and someone will pay top dollar for Harrison.

In James Harrison's wet dreams...! 2
Buffalo Bills cut quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick

After signing a lucrative six year, $59 million deal in 2011, Ryan Fitzpatrick could not quite live up to the salary or expectations. A smart quarterback who sometimes struggles with accuracy, Fitzpatrick will likely be a backup next season. Or, if he has saved his money, and there was a lot for him to save, he could wait for a team without a quality backup to be in need of a hired gun at the QB position.

Regardless, Buffalo will probably be home to Matt Barkley of U.S.C., Geno Smith of West Virginia, or soon-to-be free agent Matt Cassel. Cassel is all but certain to be released by the Kansas City Chiefs after the Chiefs acquired Alex Smith from the San Francisco 49ers in a trade and signed free agent QB Chase Daniel, formerly with the New Orleans Saints, as a backup.

Fitzpatrick played his college ball at "Haaaarvard". He's figure out his next move soon enough. 3
DeAngelo Hall, cornerback, cut by the Washington Redskins

DeAngelo Hall: blazing speed and an equally active mouth. Unfortunately, covering receivers wasn’t always his strong suit. Hall is a ball hawker and will have a role on an NFL team next year. However, the Redskins were paying him a fortune for his position and I don’t expect him to earn anywhere near what he was earning last season.

DeAngelo Hall: It doesn't help much when you outrun the receiver AFTER he catches the ball. 4
Arizona Cardinals release running back Beanie Wells

Wells has been consistently inconsistent ever since arriving in Arizona. Last year, he was riddled with injuries, his production plummeted from the 1,000 yard season he had in 2011, and his per carry average was abysmal – less than 3 yards per carry. Wells is going to struggle to find contract money for next year as the running backs market is a buyer’s market.

You never knew which Beanie Wells was going to show up. Now we don't know where he'll show up. 5

Offensive tackle Eric Winston released by the Kansas City Chiefs

Winston is one of the better offensive tackles in the league, but the Kansas City Chiefs had a complete regime change. Winston was a salary cap casualty. While being fired from any job cannot feel good, playing for the Chiefs, I would imagine a piece of Winston thought, “Take this job and shove it!”

I expect Winston to be picked up very quickly. He was earning roughly $5 million per season last year and I don’t expect his market value to fall off much. Quarterbacks are valuable commodities and teams will pay to protect them.

Eric Winston (left) and his wife, Jenny (right). I'm sure they couldn't WAIT to get out of Kansas City (2-14 in 2012). 6

Safety Bernard Pollard released by the Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens must have been very strapped for cap space. Pollard was the Ravens’ enforcer in the secondary and was a key reason the Ravens reached and won Super Bowl XLVII. There are few players in the league that can make a receiver or running back think twice before approaching a defender’s territory the way that Pollard does. Pollard only counted $3 million against next season’s salary cap, not a king’s ransom for a top performing safety.

The Ravens couldn't find $3 mil under the cap for this guy? REALLY??
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